Visa and Mastercard Credit Card Data Breach

By now, most people have heard about the data breaches of MasterCard and Visa cardholders’ account information. It’s been reported that one and a half million Visa and MasterCard customers’ accounts could be at risk. But according to Global Payments, the company that processes credit card transactions for Visa and MasterCard, in a press release on its website, discovered the breach and notified leaders of both companies that their customers’ data “may have been accessed.”

In an article on, reports that Global Payments chairman and CEO Paul Garcia has said that the “breach is contained, and the company will get its record compliance back with Visa and MasterCard ‘as soon as possible.’ Global Payments actually discovered the breach in early March, and reported it, first, to federal law enforcement. It’s unclear how the breach at Global Payments occurred.

Fortunately, credit card companies usually don’t hold their customers liable for fraudulent purchases, otherwise, the repercussions of such a breach could be far reaching if any fraudulent activity did take place, particularly to small-business owners. Visa and MasterCard said that their own systems had not been compromised, and Visa reported that none of its US customers were at risk. Still, both companies let credit card issuers know about the possible threat to their customers’ accounts.

Several large enterprises have suffered attacks over the past year, including Citigroup, which had 360,000 customers’ credit card information stolen by hackers in June 2011, National Public Radio, the International Monetary Fund and Google.

Small-business owners should not kid themselves that they are safe from hackers. They’re not. In fact, increasingly, hackers are targeting small and medium businesses because their systems have little or no protection. Although it wouldn’t be wise to panic, it would be wise for small- and medium-business owners to start looking into ways that they can make their own businesses’ data more secure.

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